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Newtownabbey’s Theatre at the Mill is celebrating its fifth anniversary in style with a lavish youth production of Lionel Bart’s classic musical Oliver!

The much loved Dickens-based musical with memorable songs such as ‘I’d Do Anything’, ‘Consider Yourself’, ‘Food Glorious Food’ and ‘Reviewing the Situation’ will run from Friday, July 24 to Saturday, August 1.

Since opening in 2010 the beautiful theatre at Mossley Mill has been famous for its highly acclaimed youth productions including Les Miserables, Oklahoma and The Producers.

Oliver! is the theatre’s first fully staged youth musical since 2012 and theatre manager and producer Bernard Clarkson is rightly excited by the prospect of a summer production full of hit tunes and memorable characters.

He said: “We are delighted to have top director Sean McNamara directing a line-up that includes some of Northern Ireland’s most talented young performers, many of whom are destined for a career on the stage.

They will be backed by a band made up of professional musicians and some of Northern Ireland’s most talented young musicians.

“It is a great opportunity for these young people to experience the thrill of live performance. They always bring a great energy and enthusiasm with them, which creates a real buzz in the theatre.”

The production will boast a fantastic set and a crack live band under the baton of celebrated Musical Director Mark Dougherty. Consistent with the theatre’s philosophy of promoting and encouraging young talent, the professional musicians will be joined by some of Northern Ireland’s most talented young players.

Over the past five years, Theatre at the Mill has established an enviable reputation for staging workshops and courses directed at young people with an aim to offer opportunities for them to engage and develop skills in drama, musical theatre, Dance, and technical stagecraft. 

The Theatre now has its own Home Spun Youth Theatre offering weekly drama classes over 3 x 10 week semesters each year.

Sean McNamara is a director at the Guildford School of Acting, one of the World’s leading conservatoires for Musical Theatre and theatre training.  Over the past five years the theatre has forged close links with this prestigious theatre school, hosting the annual auditions for the school in Ireland. 

With more than 3,000 applications for just 30 places each year, Ireland continues to compete with the rest of the World with gifted students from Ireland taking at least three of those coveted positions.

A number of the Theatre at the Mill’s past students have gone on to take up professional training and the pantomime produced by the nearby Courtyard Theatre has offered opportunities for graduates to work as part of a professional company.

Bernard Clarkson, explains: ‘Our relationship with young people, and the unique opportunity our venues provide in allowing young people access to state-of-the-art facilities and to work alongside some of the most creative and talented people is central to our success in Antrim and Newtownabbey. 

“The team are always staggered by the talent of our young people and the way in which they throw themselves into their work, with a dedication and passion, producing some of the most exciting performances and to an exceptionally high standard. 

“Young people are central to our success and I do hope that residents and visitors to the Borough will join us at one of these eight very special performances and in celebrating our fifth Anniversary year at the Theatre at the Mill.”

Lionel Bart’s sparkling musical adaption of Charles Dicken’s novel tells the story of nine-year-old orphan Oliver Twist who falls in with a group of street-urchin pickpockets led by the Artful Dodger and masterminded by the wily and devious criminal Fagin. When Oliver’s intended victim, Mr Brownlow, takes pity on the lad and offers him a home, Fagin’s partner in crime, Bill Sikes, conspires to kidnap the boy to prevent him from talking.

Tickets: £15, £13, £11 (Concession Available)

Time: 7pm nightly and 2:30pm (Sat 1 Aug)

(The performance at 2:30pm on Saturday 1 August will be a relaxed performance.)

To secure your seats for Oliver! please visit our website www.theatreatthemill.com or call our box office on 028 90340202

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